Being arrested in 2006 saved my life, even though it wasn't in my 10-year plan.
I am, however, an addict and a felon.
The Drug Enforcement Agency states on its Web site that "nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs - more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants combined.
That 7 million was just 3.8 million in 2000, an 80 percent increase in just six years."
What led me to my dark secret? A spinal injury in 2002 while playing college rugby.
After three spinal fusions failed, I was left taking every prescription painkiller.
My addiction spurred from a medical need to control the intense pain I suffered.
My doctors had no problem giving me as many as 200 pills of 10 milligram opiates a week, and I used every single one of them.
To doctors, I was a risk and an addict. I eventually did what most addicts do: anything to get my "fix."
I began writing my own prescriptions and got away with it longer than I should have.
I got caught, and being arrested saved my life.
I had to make that first step - otherwise no one would believe I deserved a second chance. I quit cold turkey.
I was using at levels equal to $10,000 worth of heroin a week, and the withdrawals were no different.
Amazingly, once I made the right decision, everyone around me was waiting to step in and help. One unexpected lesson I learned once I was clean was that the intense pain I felt in my lower back was not always pain, it was withdrawals.
I was withdrawing every few hours, and I could not tell the difference between that and true pain.
Since quitting, I have never relapsed, and I have never failed a drug/alcohol test.
Today, I know what my addictive nature can do to me, that I live without pain and am thrilled to be clean and that there are others in this community just like me who are suffering with their own addiction - either prescription or street drugs.
Jennifer Kelly, Durango